Posting, liking, commenting and sharing social media posts have become part of daily life for many people, but those posts can turn into targets for human traffickers and smugglers. Social media is designed to connect people, but it also makes it easier for predators to connect with their next victim.
The latest United Nations (UN) study called 2018 Global Study On Smuggling Of Migrants reported that smugglers and human traffickers ‘merchants’ profited up to US$ 7 billion by smuggling and trafficking at least 2.5 million migrants throughout the world in 2016. And social media platforms are said to have inadvertently helped the criminals behind this ‘business’ by recruiting their victims. The UN reported;
Social media networks and channels are used in various ways in the context of migrant smuggling. One common usage is where various social media serve as ‘consumer forums’. In a ‘business’ where there is a considerable gap between the information that is shared with migrants and reality, migrants often try to reduce this gap by using social media tools to research the smuggler and the journey they are planning to undertake.
Since some social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are pretty well-known to be actively tracking human trafficking, many times predators meet a victim on one of those sites and then convince them to chat on lesser-known sites that are relatively not actively on the lookout for smugglers and human traffickers.
The report also finds that smugglers and human traffickers advertise their ‘business’ in places where migrants can be easily reached such as social networks online.
How do smugglers and human traffickers use the social media?
The United Nations (UN) study reported says;
Social media channels are also used to promote smuggling services. This is often done by posting ads on Facebook or other fora normally used by migrants to exchange views and experiences. In their posts, smugglers present their offers, often by inserting attractive images. They underline payment modalities; for instance, payment after the delivery of the required visa. They may also ask potential clients to contact them directly via a range of messaging services, some of which also offer the advantage of anonymity.
Perpetrators are also creating fake accounts to hide their identity and whereabouts. While adults are usually good at spotting fake accounts, kids may not be. Hence parents should also monitor their child’s tablet and laptop.
If you believe you are being trafficked or know someone who is you being trafficked, you can call the Zimbabwe Counter-HumanTrafficking organization at +263 782 704 102 – 5 or at +263 (024) 704285/88/90
For more information on Human Trafficking, you can visit the website of Internation Organisation For Trafficking.